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How was the Weimer Republic set up?
Germany was a federation of eighteen states, each with its own parliament, police and laws. In
January 1919, elections took place for a new parliament. This new parliament met in the south
Germany town of Weimar, because of the fighting that was taking place in Berlin between the
sparticists and the freikorps. The parliament made two important decisions. First of all, it elected
Ebert as president. Secondly, it set up a new constitution for the new Germany.
What were the strengths and weaknesses of the new constitution?
Elected every seven years. Had the power to appoint the chancellor. Article 48 said that in an
emergency the president could make laws without going to the Reichstag.
Appointed by the President and equivalent to the British prime minister. Had to have the support of
the majority of the Reichstag.
Equivalent of the House of Commons. Power to pass or reject changes in the law. Elected by
proportional representation every four years.
The German people
All adults over the age of twenty could vote for the president and the Reichstag. Had equal rights
including the right of free speech, to travel freely, to hold political meetings and freedom of religious
`The new constitution had much strength. All Germans had equal rights, including the right to vote. A
strong President was necessary to keep control over the government and to protect the country in
crisis. The states had their own traditions and kept their own governments and some control over
their own affairs.'
This made sure that all parties were given a fair share of the seats in the Reichstag but, on the other
hand, it seriously weakened the government of the new republic.
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What was the stab in the back theory?
The stab in the back theory was the belief, put forward by the leading members of the German army,
and later supported by Hitler and the Nazis, that the German army had been on the verge of winning
the war when they were betrayed by the politicians. Although untrue, the theory was believed by
many Germans, which refused to accept that Germany had been defeated. This meant the republic
was unpopular from the start.…read more